The RAT, The Horseshoe and More

The hot weather finally had to break and it did so this weekend, making running somewhat more comfortable in the more usual damp and drizzly conditions of an English summer. This was particularly good news for the ORCs taking part in the Roseland August Trail, a tough endurance race along the coast path of south Cornwall and known as the RAT. There are four distances here, all denoted by different colour routes, setting off at different times and start places, the shortest being the White RAT which is 11 miles, then the Red RAT at 20miles, the Black Rat which is an Ultra Marathon of 32 miles and finally the Plague. This is not only a physically challenging 64miles, but is a huge test of mental strength as the runners set off from the finish at Higher Porthpean at five-past midnight, run 32 miles out to where the Black route starts at St Anthony’s head near Falmouth and then turn and run back again. Even those who take on the tough Black Rat are in awe of those who can do it twice, the Plaguers eventually clocking over 15,000ft of ascent. Rob Hicks isn’t daunted by this challenge though, this being the third time he’s completed it, and he finished in an excellent time of 13hr 03min 37sec, very close to his time last year when he was third, but this year coming sixth. Jo Turner was running the Black Rat for the second time, her previous run being in 2015 when this was her first taste of Ultra running. Since then she has completed several ultra marathons and the experience and strength she has gained from these showed when she produced a brilliant run to finish in 7.50.23, an hour’s improvement on before. The rather ill prepared duo of Heidi Wills and Charlie Galley ran the shortest route, the White Rat. Wearing road shoes and having not trained much recently they found it hard going on paths made slippery by the rain on bare earth, but still enjoyed it, finishing in 2.30.43.

Away from the coast the cooler conditions weren’t unwelcome either, but a strong breeze was not so popular with the runners of the Sticklepath Horseshoe race on Dartmoor. This is a lovely fell race, starting in Sticklepath behind Finch Foundry and taking the runners up to Belstone initially via a wooded track, then Belstone Cleave and Belstone Common, where the moors themselves greet them with a steep ascent of Belstone Tor. This is followed largely by a ridge route run round the Horseshoe, broken by a steep descent into Steeperton Gorge and an even harder climb up the other side onto Steeperton Tor. After crossing a ford there is a long slog up to the top of Cosdon Beacon followed by a fast descent off the other side, to then retrace the track back to Sticklepath. There was a stiff headwind on the outward part of the course but the runners enjoyed the benefit of a tailwind helping to push them up Cosdon on the way back. First home for the club was Mike Baker, a keen moor runner who finished in 1.38.51 while the first Okehampton lady was Charlie Collier whose time of 1.55.14 secured her the second lady prize.

Other ORC times; Mervyn Rice; 1.47.44, John Binns; 1.49.58, Andy Collier; 1.55.13, Gill Spinney; 1.57.01, Christine Fritsch; 1.59.00, Robert Richards; 2.28.36, Deborah Cunningham; 2.30.18, Anne Binns; 2.40.42, Janet White; 2.40.43.

Last Tuesday five ORCs had a good evening at the Exe 5K Summer Series race, where breezy conditions didn’t stop them from bringing home some good PBs. First ORC in was Graham Bryant with a fantastic new PB of 18:20. Next in was George Haskell in 18.31, also a PB, Andy Vernon was next to finish in 18:55, placing him third in his age category. First ORC lady home was Jo Bradford in 22.46 setting a new PB, winning her age category and achieving a gold award time. Next ORC home was Mags Jarvis, whose best time since 2014 of 24.50, saw her placed second in her age category and achieve a Platinum award time. Mags suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and the charity Parkinson’s UK have found that when marketing a fund-raising event it is helpful to use case studies to make people aware of the charity’s exercise programme before asking people to sign up to the event. Parkinson’s UK have asked Mags to provide such a case study about herself and exercise which they can use in this way in the future.

Sarah Marvin, who has been setting some great times recently, had two good weekend runs at different parkruns. Two weeks ago she set a new FV45 club record for 5k by running 21.59 at Fulham Palace parkrun. This weekend, whilst visiting her parents in Wales, she knocked a chunk off that time and set a great new record of 21.11.

Thank you Jane for the run report.